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Saturday, February 11, 2012


Bill Fleming

Couple of thoughts, KB. First, it appears you may be confusing "rights" with "powers."

And second, you are perhaps confusing natural rights with those created by legal means.

I believe those are both important distinctions, and most likely what Mr. Pay was talking about.

Organized groups of people have no intrinsic rights and/or powers, only those as agreed upon by the organizers, and even then only if they do not infringe on the natural rights of the people. Thus the language "or the people" in the 10th Amendment.

Not positive that's what Mr. Pay meant, but that's my guess.


I'll happily trade a loss to the NRA on Second Amendment arguments for stripping corporations of the legal fiction of personhood.

I will grant that the 10th Amendment recognizes that the corporate body of a state may have powers. But that alone does not prove that corporations have or should have the rights of personhood. And state powers appear to differ from individual rights. For instance, an individual can shout "Jesus sucks!" but the state cannot, right?

Ken Blanchard

Cory: then you can't sue Exxon. How happy are you about that? You'd have to hunt down every single guy and determine his or her exact liability before you can begin to collect on a disaster. Oh, and the New York Times loses its first amendment protection along with the Unions and the Sierra club. Great work!

Bill: In this context, guaranteed powers and rights are the same thing. No, I am not confusing corporate with natural rights. Once again, corporations are artificial, not natural bodies. However, a corporation exists precisely when rights and obligations are recognized as belonging to a corporate person. Therefore, corporations have rights by definition. I have shown above that corporate bodies have rights under the 2nd and 10th amendments. So the question is not whether corporations have rights or whether they have natural rights. The question is which corporations have which CONSTITUTIONAL rights.

Bill Fleming

I disagree that "rights" and "powers" are the same thing, or even synonyms, KB. A "power" in my estimation is in fact a legally recognized means of limiting, abridging or even removing a "right." So if anything, the two words are often times antonyms. Words, matter. I'm sure, if the Founders had meant "rights" in the 10th Amendment they would have written that way.

I would argue that Corporations have NO constitutional rights, only powers... (i.e. the ability to limit an individual's natural rights.)

Bill Fleming

As per above...

Ken Blanchard

Bill: if a corporate body has a "power" under the Constitution, then it has the "right" to use that power. Your view that corporations have no constitutional rights would upend two centuries of constitutional law. The New York Times Inc. certainly does enjoy freedom of the press. Churches appear as parties in lawsuits and enjoy protection under the Free Exercise Clause.

If you want to try to persuade the courts to redesign the entire system of First Amendment jurisprudence, be my guest. No one who knows anything about constitutional law will take you seriously.

Meanwhile, on planet earth, the question is WHAT constitutional rights corporations enjoy.

Bill Fleming

"The New York Times Inc."... we've been down this road before, KB. The New York Times, Inc. has never written or spoken a single word. So tiresome.


Seems to me the reporters and the activists retain their First Amendment rights. As for suing Exxon, well, we simply redefine the corporate charter to require the company to assign culpability for various actions to specific members of the organizational chart. Or heck, let's just make the CEO or the board of directors directly and personally responsible for malfeasance. I'll bet they tighten the ship really fast.

Ken Blanchard

Bill: I can understand how you find reality tiresome.

Cory: yes, the reporters and activists retain their rights. Now: who pays for teh lawyers? A reporter for the Times doesn't have to worry that he will be bankrupted by a expose he writes. The Times Inc. bears the costs and the risks. As for making CEO's and boards of directors "personally responsible", okay. Now when the Sierra Club loses a suit its leaders lose their houses. That will encourage activism! You guys are utterly ignorant about the foundations of the law.

Corporations have been an integral part of economic and political life since the Middle Ages. They benefit the members of the corporations by allowing them to pool their resources and act collectively. If I give to the Sierra Club, I can trust that the money belongs to the organization, not the leaders. Corporations also benefit governments. It is much easier to regulate and assign responsibility to a corporation than to an amorphous collection of individuals.

At any rate, to abolish corporate personhood would require rewriting law in all the developed countries. It is just plain ignorant to think that that is viable.

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